Is The “N” Word Hurting Us? (Pt. 3)
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Last time, I wrote about the commodification of black bodies by black people through the perpetuation of white stereotypes, and specifically the every-day use of “nigger/nigga” in our communities and culture. I want to understand more fully if we are not only contributing to the colonial apparatus’s expectations by playing the role the oppressor requires but whether we are literally harming ourselves.
In my first article, I wrote about the medical effects of racial oppression. We understand them as coming from white systems to black people and causing physical and psychological harm. Are our psyches only harmed when a white person uses nigger and nigga, or do our bodies and psyches react unconsciously regardless? Is black to black use of the word just as harmful to our health?
This is an argument that we have among ourselves and we currently understand it as preference or resistance. Some of us think that we are taking back the power or somehow lessening the impact of the word. But I have to question that since the images we portray of ourselves match the images that white systems have portrayed of us for centuries. I also have to question the usefulness of using the words when it brings about no progressive social change. Well, we could once again discuss this philosophically, but I want to add some data.
My dissertation study will look at the physiological response that the brain has to hearing the words “nigger” and “nigga” as spoken by and between black men. I am going to use a portable EEG headset to record brainwave activity that